European Feminisms in the Face of Fascisms


During the interwar period, fascist or quasi-fascist regimes wanted to restore a traditional gender order that they saw as being under threat. Nevertheless, feminist organizations were late in sensing and countering the fascist danger. Such organizations were dissolved in Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal, and their members forced into hiding or exile. International feminist associations were also unable to oppose the rise of fascism, with the exception of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which alongside the Communist International was behind the constitution of a large transnational organization of antifascist women, the Women’s World Committee Against War and Fascism. The Spanish Civil War and fascist aggression in Ethiopia and Central Europe were a turning point, as the division between integral pacifists and antifascists jeopardized longstanding feminist solidarities.

Demonstration of the organization Mujeres Antifascistas (Antifascist Women) under the Spanish Republic. DR.